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Africa: G8 Issues Roundup

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Jul 7, 2008 (080707)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"A staggering 9.7 million children die each year before the age of five. Most would survive if they had the basic healthcare taken for granted in rich nations. ...We're campaigning for a world where all children have an equal chance of reaching their fifth birthday." - World Vision, campaign for G8 Action on Child Healthcare

As G8 leaders convene in Japan for their July 7-9 summit, a host of reports and campaigns, from both official and non-governmental sources, are demanding that rich countries make good on promises to support healthcare and other basic development needs in poor countries. The clear consensus is that rich countries are not living up to existing commitments, and that there are specific practical measures that can and should be taken.

Groups releasing reports recently include

  • The MDG Africa Steering Group, composed of top leaders of international agencies including the United Nations, the African Development Bank, the African Union, the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Bank. See http://www.mdgafrica.org/achieving_mdg.html
  • The Africa Progress Panel, chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and including such dignitaries as Tony Blair, Bob Geldof, Graça Machel, Linah Kelebogile Mohohlo, and Olusegun Obasanjo. See http://www.africaprogresspanel.org/english/ourwork.php
  • ActionAid International "Cereal Offenders: How the G8 has contributed to the Food Crisis, and what they can do to stop it." - press release and link to report http://www.actionaid.org/pages.aspx?pageId=34&ItemID=395

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from campaign statements and a report by World Vision International's G8 Action campaign (http://www.g8action.org). It is illustrative of a emerging international consensus on the imperative of global action to ensure basic human needs worldwide. which extends to humanitarian groups such as World Vision with roots in evangelical religious traditions as well as including groups more commonly associated with advocacy. As news reports make clear, the political will in rich countries to move from promises to implementation is still falling short.

See, for example, today's Bloomberg news report from the summit, "G-8 Condemns Mugabe, Flunks Bigger Test of Boosting African Aid" http://tinyurl.com/6kvubx

The official G8 summit site is http://www.g8summit.go.jp/eng The themes of the summit are summarized at
http://www.g8summit.go.jp/eng/info/theme.html

For a special report on Africa and the G8, visit
http://www.guardian.co.uk/katine/katineg8

For a previous AfricaFocus Bulletin on Japan and Africa, see http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/jap0806.php For another recent analysis of the role of Japan in Africa, by Kweku Ampiah for http://www.opendemocracy.net, see http://tinyurl.com/5bvyqa

For previous AfricaFocus bulletins on issues of aid and global public investment, see http://www.africafocus.org/aidexp.php

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

G8 Action on Child Healthcare - World Vision Campaign 2008

Sample Letter sent by World Vision

Dear G8 leaders,

A staggering 9.7 million children still die each year before the age of five. Most would survive if they had the basic healthcare taken for granted in rich nations.

As a World Vision supporter I am asking you to reveal a detailed timetable to the UK public and the global civil society, at the G8 summit this July, on how you plan to reach commitments you have made to children since 2005 and to influence the other G8 leaders to do the same.

Specifically, I am asking you to reveal:

  1. A detailed timetable with annual targets to meet your 2005 G8 commitment to increase total annual aid by $50 billion by 2010.
  2. A detailed plan (with annual funding pledges) for how the G8 will meet its commitments to achieve universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support for HIV and AIDS by 2010. And tell us when and how the G8 will fund prevention of mother to child transmission of this disease, the provision of paediatric treatment and help for orphans and vulnerable children.
  3. A commitment to allocate at least 10% of aid by 2010 to long-term funding for health systems so the world has a chance of achieving the Millennium Development Goals for maternal and child health and the scale up of HIV and AIDS programmes.

    In the face of the global food crisis:

  4. The UK government and other G8 countries must act quickly and decisively in response to increased child hunger and undernutrition due to the rise in global food prices. The G8 must provide the funds to help those in need now; address the issue of biofuels and the other underlying causes of the crisis - including trade barriers and subsidies in the North and lack of investment in small-scale agricultural producers in the South.


A Matter of Life or Death

World Vision International

http://www.g8action.org

Foreword

World Vision Japan National Director, Nobuhiko Katayama

There is a global epidemic that every year leaves millions dead, reaching across the borders of developing countries regardless of culture, language or sex. Despite efforts by the international community to stop it, the annual death count is so high that you can only make sense of the numbers by comparing them to country population figures.

This international killer is poor health. And in 2006, it claimed the lives of 9.7 million children under the age of five. The vast majority of these children died from preventable and treatable causes. Of the girls and boys who have survived this modern-day epidemic, 15 million to date have felt its effects through the loss of one or both parents to AIDS.

Worldwide, there are 136 countries with populations under 9.7 million. Imagine the news headlines if, on December 31, 2006, it was discovered that an epidemic had killed all the people of Senegal; or of Sweden; or of Hong Kong; or of Israel. Then imagine if, on December 31, 2007, the same thing happened again.

This number of deaths is almost too large to comprehend, but each death is that of a child, and the loss of a precious son or daughter. Whenever I travel to Africa I come face to face with this sad truth. Such tragedy is the stark reality for millions of parents and communities around the world – right now. Today in the developing world, more than 26,000 children under the age of five will die largely preventable deaths, and 1,400 women will die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Because half of these children die in sub-Saharan Africa, some might conclude that such outrageously high mortality figures are due mainly to tropical diseases such as dengue or yellow fever.

The reality, however, is that most children who die will do so from causes that would rarely, if ever, kill a child born in a country where there is access to adequate health care. Statistics tell us that 10,000 (37%) of the children who die today will do so from neo-natal causes. These include being born too early, or with congenital abnormalities, asphyxia or tetanus. Another 5,100 children (19%) will die from pneumonia, while 4,600 (17%) will die from diarrhea - an entirely preventable and treatable condition in any country with clean water and adequate health care.

While the latest figures show that the annual numbers of child deaths are gradually falling, it is painfully clear that Millennium Development Goal 4 will not be met. MDG4 aims to reduce the global under-five mortality rate from what is currently 9.7 million deaths per year to 4 million by 2015. At the current gradual rate of improvement in child mortality, an estimated 18 million more children will die between 2009 and 2015. Significant additional effort will be required if all countries, particularly those in southern Africa, are to meet MDG4 by 2015.

This is where the G8 leaders come in. Many people around the world have a share in the responsibility for achieving the eight MDGs, but the G8, as the world's wealthiest governments, can provide a massive boost to the effort to reach these global targets. By meeting its commitments, the G8 also acts as a powerful model for other donors and developing countries to do the same.

At the moment, non-governmental organisations such as World Vision are filling gaps in many areas of basic health service provision, something that ought to be the responsibility of national governments. If the G8 chooses not to address the gap in health systems funding, then funding of traditional health programmes that target specific diseases and conditions, and civil society gap- filling, will continue to be the major avenues by which reduction of child mortality is addressed.

And if the G8 chooses not to address the gap in health systems funding, the world will fail to meet MDG4 by 2015.

This is because, despite the rolling out of good health programmes by charities and other civil society organisations in developing countries, there is simply not enough money invested in these programmes to make a long-term difference on a national scale. What is more, such programmes are simply not sustainable. Ultimately a country's government must provide the resources for adequate health care, with the back-up of sufficient, long-term funding commitments for the poorest countries, where there is an absolute shortage of resources – commitments like those made by the G8 leaders.

The G8 itself has acknowledged that it has power to greatly improve the lives of the world's poorest people. Over the past decade it has made a range of funding promises that, if kept, would save millions of lives.

One example is the 2005 commitment to raise aid levels to US$130 billion by 2010. The promised rise of $50 billion could ensure adequate funding to provide comprehensive child and maternal health programmes, effective responses to TB and malaria, quality basic education for all children and universal prevention, treatment and care for people affected by HIV and AIDS.

This could save the lives of 6 million children and at least 2 million adults per year.

However, well over two years after this commitment, there is still no timetable indicating when leaders will put their money on the table. And each year millions of men, women and children die unnecessarily while waiting for these promises to be fulfilled.

History has demonstrated that concrete action by the G8 does save lives. The last G8 summit in Japan, in 2000, laid the foundation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Since its inception in 2002, the Fund has committed $7.6 billion to projects around the world – an effort that has saved over 1.8 million lives.

Eight years after the Okinawa G8 Summit, the Japanese Government, as the president of the G8, has announced it will put the issue of global health high on the agenda this year and said it aims to create a framework for action. Here is an historic opportunity for G8 leaders to seize the moment and save millions of lives.

What follows are World Vision's calls to the G8 leaders and their ministers of finance and development. They are not calls for more money. They are simply calls for the leaders of wealthy countries – countries where newborn babies are not at risk of dying from pneumonia or diarrhea – to hold themselves accountable for their commitments, and to be strategic with the commitments they have made.

We at World Vision pray that at this year’s G8 Summit in Hokkaido, Japan, leaders will acknowledge that one of the most urgent crises facing the world is the epidemic of poor health – an epidemic that last year killed millions of innocent children, and which will kill many millions more in years to come unless world leaders act today to stop it.

Call 1

That those G8 governments that have not yet done so publish a detailed timetable, with annual targets, that provides stepwise increases in aid towards their promised 2010 aid levels; and that all G8 donor countries work to reach the EU minimum target of 0.51% of GNI to aid by 2010.

Call 2

That the G8 ask other donor countries that have not yet done so to publish similar forward projections of their aid levels each year to 2010.

Call 3

That the G8 governments work actively to improve the effectiveness of their aid, by:

  • refraining from attaching economic conditionalities to aid;
  • delivering aid mainly in the form of real monetary transfers towards nationally owned development strategies, not artificially inflating aid through debt relief or technical assistance; and
  • ensuring improved co-ordination and alignment around the priorities and plans of recipient countries.

Call 4

That the G8 governments provide a comprehensive plan (with annual funding pledges) to meet the G8 HIV and AIDS commitments to achieve universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010 for both children and adults.

Call 5

That the G8 support national governments to deliver comprehensive and integrated prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services, as outlined by the G8 leaders at the Heiligendamm Summit in 2007, by:

  • supporting the production of national scale-up plans for PMTCT, using the WHO Scale-Up Planning Guide for the Prevention of MTCT and the “PMTCT-Plus” approach, which incorporates other members of the family;
  • reinforcing country-level accountability mechanisms for national PMTCT goals and targets through the appointment of national management teams and the establishment of a functioning co-ordinating mechanism;
  • providing a long-term, co-ordinated system of technical support to assist countries in developing comprehensive, well-targeted, evidence-based and scaled-up prevention programming; and
  • working with other G8 countries to provide a comprehensive plan, and annual funding pledges, to meet the 2007 commitment to provide $1.5 billion to support PMTCT programmes.

Call 6

That the G8 ensure that affordable pediatric medicines, including generic combinations, are available, particularly for second-line treatments.

Call 7

That the G8 ensure that children are considered in national and international efforts to scale up access to treatment.

Call 8

That the G8 support pharmaceutical companies in developing simple and affordable diagnostic tests, increasing research and development for child-specific needs and producing pediatric fixed-dose combinations.

Call 9

That the G8 provide a comprehensive plan towards raising the US$1.8 billion needed for pediatric treatment in the context of universal access, as promised at the G8 summit in 2007.

Call 10

That the G8 make time-bound and measurable commitments to earmark 12% of HIV and AIDS expenditure specifically for all affected children and in particular for the more than 10 million orphans and vulnerable children in Africa, as promised at the G8 summit last year.

Call 11

That the G8 support governments of all highly affected countries to develop and implement national plans of action that protect orphans and vulnerable children and guarantee their human rights.

Call 12

That by 2010 the G8 countries allocate at least 10% of their sector-allocable ODA to strengthening community- and districtlevel health systemsxxiii in order to provide universal maternal and child health services and enable the scale-up of responses to HIV and other major infectious diseases. Alternatively, that each G8 donor country contribute its fair sharexxiv of the minimum $15 billion per year aid required for basic health services by 2010.

Call 13

That the G8 countries also accelerate the increase in funding for HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria through the Global Fund and other mechanisms, where appropriate, in order to meet their commitments to universal HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010 and their commitments to combating the other infectious diseases.

Call 14

That the G8 work with national governments through the International Health Partnership to assist them in developing comprehensive, adequately funded and workable health plans that focus on effective health systems, with particular focus on delivering an essential package of care through strengthened community and district health interventions.

Call 15

That the G8 work with the international financial institutions to ensure that fiscal conditions that hinder the provision of effective basic health services are not imposed on developing countries.


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at africafocus@igc.org. Please write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin, or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see http://www.africafocus.org


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